Notre Dame state soccer preview; Quidzinski leads off the field
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY – Notre Dame Academy girls’ soccer player Lucy Quidzinski was one of the Tritons key returnees heading into the 2019 season.
Then, with the season barely 60 minutes old, she went down with a lower-leg injury and had to be taken off on a stretcher.
Rather than sit on the sidelines and think about what could have been, she has been an instrumental leader off the field this season for the Tritons.
With Notre Dame’s WIAA Division 3 sectional final game tied in the final minutes against Xavier June 8, Quidzinski could be seen spurring her teammates on in a 2-1 victory after Izzy Kellner’s dramatic goal in the final minute.
“The team was sadder than anything when I went down with the injury,” said Quidzinski. “I told them you have the rest of the season to get back out onto the field and win games. I’m so proud of them for getting us back to state. I do everything I can to get the underclassmen in the right positions and shout encouragement to the girls.”
The No. 3-seeded Tritons (13-6-3) will play No. 2 Madison Edgewood in a WIAA semifinal matchup at the Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee June 13 at 1:30 p.m.
“I have been fortunate to be able to go to state nine different times,” said Notre Dame head coach Bob Rickards, who will be coaching his last tournament as the Tritons leader. “Each one is special and different. My first time, I didn’t ride down with the team because my wife was giving birth to our daughter. This one is special because we are returning as defending state champs. Each one brings different moments that make them special and unique.”
The Tritons are on a four-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 20-1 in the WIAA playoffs.
Notre Dame is led by three seniors who have combined for 73 points on the season.
Forward Jenna Cuene does it with her ball skills and legs. She leads the Tritons with 11 goals and 7 assists.
Keighley Blindauer – who was part of Notre Dame’s basketball run to the sectional final – and Kellner both have 22 points and have stepped up offensive production in the midst of injuries and graduation.
Not to be outdone has been the play of Notre Dame’s backline that is composed of many freshmen and sophomores.
Leading the way are Ellese Martin, Emily Noble, Brelyn McCarron, Sarah Hardwick, Riley VandenHouten and Libby Rickards.
“With not having a huge scorer like last year, we have tried to develop multiple scoring threats,” added Rickards. “We don’t want the opposition to shut down one player – we want to force them to stop many players.”
Edgewood comes into the contest with a 17-2-2 record that includes a tie with Waunakee, who is the No. 1 overall seed in Division 1.
The Crusaders counter with the one-two punch of Hailey and Jordyn Rothwell, who have a combined 48 goals and 113 points on the season.
“Edgewood comes in with a great record,” Rickards said. “They have played some tough teams and have come out on top in a majority of them. They seem to have two very strong players who score most of their goals. Defensively, they don’t make many mistakes – only giving up 14 goals in 21 matches. I do know that they have one player who has signed with the Wisconsin Badgers.”
No matter what happens this upcoming weekend at the state tournament, coach Rickards has stamped his success on the high school scene and will take his next chapter to the college level as the St. Norbert College women’s coach.
“I would like to be remembered as a coach who taught kids how to play the game the right way,” said Rickards about his years of guiding the Tritons soccer program. “By that, I don’t just mean the style of play, but how they conduct themselves on and off the field. At Notre Dame, we try to coach the whole person by mixing education, faith and critical thinking to make a well-rounded athlete who is confident in their own decisions on the pitch.”